Safety and student drinking

By Joseph Pratt

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With college right around the corner, law enforcement agencies across the state are reminding soon-to-be students that, while it is alright to have fun, they need to play it safe when it comes to alcohol consumption.

In an effort to reach students, troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s (OSHP) Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) are asking Ohio parents remind their college students of the state’s alcohol laws and general safety tips as they begin moving into their dorms and apartments over the next several weeks.

“For many students this is the first time away from home, so parents need to discuss with their students the importance of making good decisions,”OIU Commander Captain Gary Allen said. “Parents and our agents have a common goal – let the students have fun, but safely and lawfully.”

The legal drinking age in Ohio is 21 years old. If students are caught drinking, in possession of or sharing in the cost of alcoholic beverages; furnishing alcohol to anyone under 21; or using or in possession of fake identification each have criminal implications, as well as possible sanctions by their college or university.

The OIU is particularly strict when it comes to parties held in which case alcohol could reach the hands of underage persons.

If students are hosting parties, they need to make sure anyone consuming or possessing alcohol is of legal age. At least one person should be sober to control access to the alcohol, making sure no one underage or visibly intoxicated is served, as well as preventing harm from happening to the guests – such as assaults.

The OIU is also concerned about students leaving campus to drink, reminding the students who do so to drink reasonably and to keep their wits about them in the presence of others.

Before friends leave their dorm or their apartments, OIU recommends they promise to stick together until they are home safe and to be on the lookout for drink tampering. Anyone who sees someone tampering with a drink should get that person out of the situation and contact authorities.

The OIU also gave additional tips for safe drinking, such as knowing that both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks can be drugged; reminding students to drink from bottles or cans is possible, verses glasses; and knowing that once a back is turned to a drink, they are best to get a new one.

Shawnee State University’s Department of Public Safety reminds college students that the campus maintains certain rules concerning the presence of alcohol on college property.

Students who are in dorms are allowed to have alcohol if every person living in the dorm is over the age of 21. These students are also asked to refrain from having any other student under 21 in their presence while they have the alcohol in their dorm.

“We just ask that students drink reasonably and not abuse alcohol,” Director of Public Safety David Thoroughman said. “We also want out students to remain safe, so if they leave campus to drink, do so with friends and with a designated driver. We just want to make sure students aren’t abusing alcohol and endangering anyone.”

Thoroughman said that he and his officers hardly have to address issues with alcohol on the campus, but if a student is found to have violated the rules, the university handles it in a proactive way, such as studying about alcohol safety.

Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.